Sept. 21 is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, Cycle II). Pope Benedict XVI, who is staying at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo throughout September, will celebrate Mass and dedicate an altar at the nearby St. Pancras Cathedral in Albano Laziale at 9 a.m.

Family has a resource page providing links to information about St. Pio of Pietrelcina and the St. Thérèse novena.

Sept. 23 is the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Our son is a big fan of Padre Pio and has a lot of books and pamphlets about him. It’s made us realize that there is a lot of good material out there — and some that isn’t ideal.

To learn more about the man, the best place to start is the Vatican web page devoted to him; you can find the link under “Resources” at

The page’s biography focuses on the saint’s virtues and Franciscan spirituality rather than on the signs and wonders. Here’s how it handles the fact that Padre Pio suffered from the stigmata, the inexplicable presence of the visible wounds of Christ:

“The virtue of fortitude shone in him. He understood very early in life that his would be the way of the cross, and he accepted it at once with courage and out of love. For many years, he experienced spiritual sufferings. For years he endured the pains of his wounds with admirable serenity. He accepted in silence the many interventions of his superiors, and in the face of calumnies, he always remained silent.”

It sums up his response to fame by quoting Padre Pio: “I only want to be a poor friar who prays.”

Sept. 23 is also the first day of the St. Thérèse novena. Find links to EWTN’s novena at and, nine days later, look for your rose.

Readings for Mass

Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

In today’s first reading, Isaiah recounts the Lord’s words: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” How are God’s ways different from ours? In today’s Gospel, Christ tells the story of the laborers and demonstrates several ways.

1. He doesn’t score our achievements like we do. We are apt to think in labor terms: At home, we notice who is working more or working less. In a social situation, we notice who puts in time where and when. But for Christ, our acceptance of his grace is what matters, not our efforts.

2. He recruits us; we don’t send him our job application. It can seem to us that, whether we converted or just chose to remain Catholic, we did the legwork, decided what to believe, settled on the Church despite some incompatibility, and then graced it with our presence. That’s not exactly the way it works, according to Christ. He went out, found us idle, and — through the circumstances of our life and the different channels he has — chose us to come and join him.

3. Our faith life is more like work than a party. In other parables, Christ invites people to a party. That’s a vision of heaven. This and other parables (and today’s second reading) have to do with our mission, and Christ invites people not to a party but to work. If our Christian life doesn’t feel like work (joyful work, but work), we’re doing something wrong.

4. He is generous. Christ’s generosity is real generosity. Though our faith life is more like work than a party, Christ is more like a generous host than a boss. He isn’t a clock-watcher, being careful to give us just what we deserve. If he did that, what would we deserve? Instead, he gives everything to everyone.